Michigan Severe Weather Awareness Week is April 8-14

Severe weather in the United States causes numerous deaths and injuries and billions of dollars of damage. In a typical year, more than 1,200 tornadoes occur throughout the country and nearly 12,000 reports of wind and hail are received from local first responders and the public.  

Michigan Severe Weather Awareness Week is April 8 - 14, 2018. Springtime severe weather can happen anytime, in any part of the country in the form of thunderstorms with damaging winds, tornadoes, large hail and flooding. Being prepared for severe weather is critical to keep you and your family safe during weather emergencies. 

Emergency Alerts & Warnings 

Outdoor warning sirens located throughout the City of Portage are used primarily to alert those in an outside setting. The sirens are not often heard by those in a home or vehicle, unless in the immediate area of a siren. For that reason, it is important to utilize other means to receive weather alerts and warnings.

Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) warn mobile phone users of severe weather and other national emergencies using GPS technology to identify individuals in the location of the emergency. This technology only works if not disabled by the mobile phone user.

NOAA Weather Radio is a nationwide network of radio stations broadcasting continuous weather information from the nearest National Weather Service (NWS) office. A NOAA radio can be purchased at most stores that sell electronic and/or radio items. Anytime severe weather threatens a geographical area, the NWS will also interrupt local TV and radio stations to provide relevant information pertaining to a severe weather emergency in the area.

Sign up for PortageAlert, which allows the city to send urgent voice and/or text messages to home phones, business, local agencies and mobile phones during local emergencies within the City of Portage.

Make a Shelter Plan and Disaster Supply Kit

To effectively shelter, you must choose a place in your home, business or other location that is safe during severe weather.  In general, the safest locations are in a basement or a small interior room on the lowest level and away from windows.  Also consider those with disabilities or limited access and functional needs, including devices and equipment.

Stock your safe place with a radio, a basic first-aid kit and flashlight.  Having a cell phone with you may prove to be of great value to receive and/or transmit important information.  Have a disaster supply kit on hand that will last for at least 72 hours.  The kit should include one gallon of water per person and animal per day; nonperishable and easy to prepare food; medical supplies, such as prescription medication and equipment; and extra batteries for electronic equipment.

Communicating During Disasters

When using a mobile phone to communicate during disasters, texting uses less battery power than a phone call and minimizes network congestion.  If you make a phone call, keep it brief, conveying only vital information to emergency personnel and/or family.  Further conserve the battery in your mobile phone by reducing the screen brightness and closing all apps not being used.  Keep in mind that most household phones likely will not work in the event of a loss of power.

When making an emergency call with a mobile phone, dispatch centers do not receive an address and in some cases, the name of the caller.  Acquiring this information takes time and can impact the response to an emergency.  Consider signing up for SMART911.  When an emergency call is made from a phone registered with a SMART911 Safety Profile, the 9-1-1 system recognizes the phone number and automatically displays profile information of the caller, including family members, pets and vulnerable household members, among other information.  Visit www.smart911.com for more details.